He’s recovered from illness and an unfortunate spell at Sydney FC, but Dubbo junior Jacob Tratt remains as determined as ever after signing a one-year deal with fellow A-League club Wellington Phoenix.
The contract delighted Tratt when he signed it on Monday and it came as a belated birthday present to remember after he turned 22 just three days earlier.
The versatile defender impressed Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick when trialling with the New Zealand based club in Saturday’s pre-season match against the Central Coast Mariners and the Dubbo product is now focused on making a real name for himself.
"I want to become the best right-back in Australia and with the help of Ernie and the boys I feel I can achieve it,” Tratt told the club’s official website.
The Phoenix name is also very apt for the former Western Panthers junior, as he has overcome a serious bout of glandular fever to return to the pinnacle of the national game.
After spending two years in the Sydney FC youth team, one where he captained the side to a title, Tratt signed a deal with the club’s senior side.
His development was seriously hampered by the battle with illness but he linked up NSW Premier League club Sydney United, coached by former Sydney FC captain Mark Rudan, where he quickly got back to his best form.
"That (fever) sucked the life out of me but I am fine now and had a good season with Sydney United," Tratt said, before saying he had been impressed during the short amount of time he’s spent with his new club.
“I am looking forward to being part of it because they were all trying to help me from the moment I arrived for the game.”
The deal has an option for a second year, should Tratt impress this coming season.
At 190cm tall he has all the makings of a top-class defender and he is expected to battle for both the centre back and right back positions.
His speed across the turf is also a real asset and Wellington coach Merrick has no doubts Tratt has what it takes to become a force in the competition.
"He knows exactly where he wants to go. He wants to play in the A-League and be one of the best players in it,” the A-League winning coach said.
“We are very diligent in doing background checks on players we are keen on and felt that Jacob was unlucky to get glandular fever.
“He did the right thing and went down to the lower level with Sydney United where coach Mark Rudan did a good job with him.”